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Bill seeks to repeal ‘outdated’ World War I-era federal tax on truckers

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This week, lawmakers introduced a bipartisan bill that would repeal a long-standing tax on the purchase of new heavy duty trucks.

The Modern Clean and Safe Trucks Act of 2023 bill was introduced on March 8 by U.S. Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Todd Young (R-Ind.).

The bill would eliminate the federal excise tax (FET) on heavy trucks and trailers, which lawmakers say was “established over 100 years ago to support efforts to pay for World War I.” The FET was first levied by Congress in 1917.

The FET is 12% of the sale price, reportedly the highest excise tax placed on any product in the U.S., and “routinely adds between $12,000 and $22,000 to the cost of a new heavy truck, tractor, or trailer,” according to the text of the bill.

Lawmakers argue that repealing the FET would incentivize fleets to modernize to cleaner and safer trucks and trailers.

“It’s time to repeal this outdated and onerous tax on our Hoosier truckers,” said Senator Young. “Our bipartisan bill will open the floodgates to investment in safer and cleaner trucks and trailers that will benefit our economy and the environment.”

The bill is supported by the American Trucking Associations (ATA).

“The federal excise tax on purchases of trucks adds nearly $25,000 to the cost of new equipment – slowing deployment of safer and more environmentally friendly vehicles,” said ATA President and CEO Chris Spear. “This more than 100-year-old tax – first instituted to support American troops during the First World War, has far outlived its usefulness and now acts as an impediment to creating jobs, reducing emissions and improving highway safety.”

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